Presented by AARP NY

Since scandal engulfed his administration, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has had a couple go-to moves whenever he emerges in public. One has been appearing at events

flanked by Black clergy and leaders, as we discussed yesterday. And the other has been announcing rollbacks of one pandemic restriction after another, even as coronavirus cases in New York are the second-highest

per capita of any state in the nation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday accused Cuomo

of making reopening decisions to serve himself namely, the need to distract from the multiple allegations of sexual harassment he is facing and mounting calls for his resignation or impeachment. I want to ask a question. Is this being done because of what the data and science is telling us, or is this being done for political reasons? the mayor said. Because it sure as hell looks like a lot of these decisions are being made by the governor because of his political needs.

De Blasio was particularly peeved

that Cuomo ordered the reopening

of indoor fitness classes in New York City just a day after the mayor and his public health advisers said it would not be safe to do so. In recent days, the governor has also expanded indoor dining capacity

in the city, allowed larger social gatherings

, ended curfews

for some businesses, and lifted the remaining

cluster zone restrictions.

The state of New York continues to make decisions without consulting the city of New York or our health experts or any locality. And this is why we need local control, de Blasio said. The state just doesnt care.

The mayors irritation did little to stop the governors spate of reopening announcements. Later Thursday, the governor announced that Yankee Stadium and Citi Field will be allowed to open to fans at 20 percent capacity

on Opening Day. No press was admitted

to the event nor allowed to ask questions remotely, so reporters havent been able to ask the once-famously accessible governor about his pandemic policy rationale or the latest developments in the sexual harassment scandal.

ITS FRIDAY. Got tips, suggestions or thoughts? Let us know … By email: [email protected]

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WHERES ANDREW? Probably not in front of reporters.

WHERES BILL? Appearing on WNYCs Brian Lehrer show.

A message from AARP NY:

Our seniors deserve better. State lawmakers must act now to demand safe and accountable nursing homes for those who need it, and provide more funding for services to help seniors remain independent at homewhere they want to be. Lets show New York seniors the respect and dignity theyve earned. Learn more.

WHAT ALBANY’S READING

FBI INVESTIGATORS probing the Cuomo administrations handling of nursing homes during the pandemic last spring are seeking information about a state budget provision

that gave operators legal immunity, THE CITY has learned. In recent weeks, FBI officials have been looking to interview members of Gov. Andrew Cuomos staff and other state officials about the eleventh-hour addition to the state budget last March, according to three people familiar with the matter. The measure granted nursing homes and hospitals broad legal protections against lawsuits and criminal liability for care provided to residents and patients during the pandemic. FBI officials started to make house calls this month, showing up at peoples residences and leaving business cards, according to the three sources. Investigators questions have focused primarily on the nursing home immunity provision and how it got in the state budget, said one legislative source, who did not want to be named because of the ongoing probe. The Citys Josefa Velazquez

LAWMAKERS APPROVED long-sought legislation Thursday limiting the use of solitary confinement in New York prisons and jails. The bill, called the Humane Alternatives to Solitary Confinement Act, or HALT, passed the Senate days after sailing through the Assembly. If signed by Gov. Cuomo, the measure will limit any form of isolation exceeding 15 days and ban solitary confinement for vulnerable populations altogether. Prolonged segregated confinement can cause permanent harm and does not properly address the root causes that lead to the punishment, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said. These reforms are morally right, fiscally responsible, and will improve outcomes at jails and prisons. New York Daily News Denis Slattery

JUST A QUARTER of New York voters want Gov. Andrew Cuomo reelected to a fourth term, ashis approval ratings continue to nosedive amid escalating nursing home and sexual harassment scandals. Just 25 percent of voters would back a 2022 reelection bid for Cuomo while 66 percent now say they are opposed, according to a new poll released by Quinnipiac

University on Thursday. Its an 11-point plunge from just two weeks ago, when an already-anemic 36 percent of voters said they would back Cuomo again, compared to 59 percent opposed, the survey showed. Cuomos job approval rating also sank to its lowest level since he first took office in 2011 with only 39 percent of voters giving his performance a positive review while 48 percent turned their thumbs down. New York Posts Bernadette Hogan and Nolan Hicks

ON THE MORNING of December 13, 2020, Lindsey Boylan sat in the passenger seat of herfamilys car, with her husband at the wheel and her six-year-old daughter in the back. She began typing a series of tweets on her phone. Boylan, a former special adviser to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, had felt increasingly troubled as press reports mentioned Cuomo as a potential Attorney General in the Biden Administration. For more than a year, she had been raising allegations on Twitter that Cuomo presided over a hostile and toxic workplace, initially drawing little attention. A week before, Boylan had tweeted again, and another former Cuomo employee had reached out to her privately, to share a story of being sexually harassed by the Governor. I felt really responsible for what happened to this woman, because I didnt do something about it, Boylan told me, in her first detailed interview

about her allegations. She saw the stories about Cuomos political prospects as a cause for urgency. The New Yorkers Ronan Farrow

A bill introduced in the Legislature would make it a crime for public officials to disclose confidential records in retaliation against employees who level harassment allegations.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK Seventeen state lawmakers will fast for 24 hours in support of workers who have been on a hunger strike to demand a $3.5 billion relief fund for New Yorkers excluded from federal aid because of their immigration status. The fasting pols include Sens. Jessica Ramos, Julia Salazar, and Brad Hoylman, and Assemblymembers Carmen De La Rosa, Ron Kim, Yuh-Line Niou, and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas. The group of immigrants and supporters launched the hunger strike

on Tuesday.

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WHAT CITY HALL’S READING

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO received the COVID-19 vaccine during his City Hall press briefing Thursday. Hizzoner, wearing a blue polo shirt with the official Big Apple seal on it, received an injection of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine from city Health Department Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi as First Lady Chirlane McCray stood by his side. OK, doctor, you have to tell me when youre giving the shot though, a grinning de Blasio quipped after Chokshi gave de Blasio the jab in his left arm The 59-year-old mayor became eligible to get inoculated after the state opened shots up to public facing government employees Wednesday. New York Posts Natalie Musumeci and Nolan Hicks

AFTER JUST OVER two days of tabulating, the New York City Board of Elections finished its first count of ballots

on Thursday using the new ranked-choice voting system marking a major milestone in a new era for city elections. Selvena Brooks-Powers, who led the field based on the unofficial results after the February 23rd special election for City Council, grew her lead to winning threshold more than 50% of the vote and issued a statement declaring victory in the 31st Council District which covers portions of the Rockaway peninsula and the southeast Queens mainland. WNYCs Brigid Bergin

VOLUNTEER RACHEL Pratt was doing laps around Madison Square Park on a recent morning, trying to collect signatures for Kim Watkins, a candidate for Manhattan Borough President. In her various loops around the crowded park, she convinced just one person to sign; Watkins needs 1,200 signatures by March 25th to get on the ballot. I got to finesse my ask, I got to up my game, Pratt said, reevaluating her icebreaker language before approaching more strangers lounging on benches or scarfing down a bagel. Its a pandemic and people have reservations about getting too close and having conversations. Its a historic election season in New York City on a number of levels. More than 500 candidates are running for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president, district attorney and city council districts all across the five boroughs. But they wont make it on the ballot without gathering enough valid signatures

from New York City voters. And getting a stranger to stop, approach, and sign something, in the midst of a pandemic, is a lot to ask. WNYCs Gwynne Hogan

ANDREW YANG is fed up with New York Citys school closures, and hes not mincing words about it. The leading mayoral candidate, who has a 5-year-old son in a Manhattan public school, took aim at the citys

190,000-member United Federation of Teachers for its perceived role in delaying school openings during an interview with POLITICO this week. I will confess to being a parent that has been frustrated by how slow our schools have been to open, and I do believe that the UFT has been a significant reason why our schools have been slow to open, Yang said. He has been among the most vocal of the Democratic mayoral candidates in expressing displeasure with how the de Blasio administration has handled school closures amid the pandemic. POLITICOs Sally Goldenberg and Tina Nguyen

ANDREW YANGS voice cracked Thursday as he opened up about something hes rarely discussed in his bid to become New York Citys next mayor: his own experiences with racism. Ive been Asian all my life, and I remember vividly growing up with this constant sense of invisibility, mockery, and disdain, he said. A sense that you cannot be American if you have an Asian face. But this has metastasized into something new and deadly and virulent and hateful. Yang was among six mayoral contenders who gathered at Rev. Al Sharptons National Action Network headquarters in Harlem to address the recent Georgia shootings that killed eight people, six of whom were women of Asian heritage. The shootings come amid a steep uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City, inflamed by rhetoric from former President Donald Trump and others who have referred to Covid-19 as the China virus and the kung flu. POLITICOs Erin Durkin

ON THE TRAIL Mayoral candidate Eddie Cullen was in the middle of introducing himself at a forum hosted by Delta Sigma Theta Thursday night when viewers got a reminder of the pitfalls of virtual campaigning. Just as Cullen, a Bronx entrepreneur, was expressing his appreciation for being invited, someone from the Eric Adams camp cut in asking, Who the fk is this? While the expletive did not come from Adams himself, who was on his own video feed, it activated the screen of someone else using his name (presumably from his campaign) who had forgotten to hit the all-important mute button. Joe Anuta

DEBATES! POLITICO will be co-hosting three NYC debates in June

with NBC 4 New York/WNBC and Telemundo 47/WNJU in the races for mayor and comptroller. Moderators include City Hall Bureau Chief Sally Goldenberg, WNBC political reporter Melissa Russo, WNBC news anchor David Ushery and WNJU morning news anchor Allan Villafana.

A message from AARP NY:

FROM THE DELEGATION

ONE OF THE federal governments main efforts to push Americans to prepare for climate threats is in question after the Senate majority leaders office objected to a plan to adjust flood insurance rates

. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was preparing to announce new rates for federal flood insurance on April 1, so that the prices people pay would more accurately reflect the risks they face. The change would very likely help reduce Americans vulnerability to floods and hurricanes by discouraging construction in high-risk areas. But it would also increase insurance costs for some households, making it a tough sell politically. Last week, the office of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic majority leader, pushed back on the changes, according to several people familiar with the discussion. That pushback has caused FEMA to pause the rollout of the new rates. The New York Times Christopher Flavelle and Emily Cochrane

Did you know that POLITICO Pro has coverage and tools at the state level? All the state legislative and regulatory tracking, budget documents, state agency contact information, and everything else you need to stay ahead of state policy movement integrate into our smart and customizable platform. Learn more and become a Pro today.

AROUND NEW YORK

English language learners and immigrant families say their students are falling behind due to lack of communication from the city

, the absence of a plan to catch up students and inadequate family engagement during the coronavirus pandemic.

The transit workers unionis suing to reverse service cuts

on the C and F lines.

Five Manhattan schools received suspicious envelopes

containing powder, but it was found to be non-hazardous.

Jet Blue is weighing a move to Florida.

Parents who wished to opt out of vaccinating their children for measles under a former exemption on religious grounds lost their appeal

Thursday at the states second-highest court.

City Council Member Ben Kallos is proposing a bill to bar the NYPD from using armed robots

.

Outdoor showswill start this weekend

as part of the Open Culture program.

The head of theteachers unionwants to keep a rule in place

that shuts down a school temporarily when two unrelated Covid-19 cases are found there.

A Dutchess County man pleaded guilty to keeping illegal sharks in his basement

.

SOCIAL DATA BY DANIEL LIPPMAN

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jill AbramsonLeonard A. Lauder … Craig Hatkoff Alissa Krinsky CBS Emma GottliebChristian Miller, senior investigative reporter at ProPublica KPMGs Ian Hainline ABCs Van ScottKia Baskerville

MEDIAWATCH ALEXI MCCAMMOND UPDATE: “Teen Vogues New Top Editor Out After Backlash Over Old Racist Tweets: The Condé-owned outlets new editor has exited the job just days before she was set to take on the gig, by The Daily Beasts Maxwell Tani and Lachlan Cartwright

A message form AARP NY:

Whats happened in New Yorks nursing homes during the past eleven months is a tragedy. More than 13,625 seniors have died of COVID-19, and still chronic problems persistlike understaffing, especially when it comes to direct care for residents. Our seniors deserve better. State lawmakers must act now to demand safe and accountable nursing homes for those who need it, and provide more funding for services to help seniors remain independent at homewhere they want to be. Lets show New York seniors the respect and dignity theyve earned. Learn more.

SOCIAL DATA BY DANIEL LIPPMAN

IN A RANKED choice voting first, an outside spending group is promoting two rival candidates for City Council directing voters to choose Eric Dinowitz first and Daniel Padernacht second in a special election for an open Bronx seat. Voters of NYC, a Super PAC funded by developer William L. Zeckendorf and other real estate industry players, disclosed Tuesday that it had sent a mailer and bought a newspaper ad featuring the names and faces of both candidates. The promotions include an image of the ranked choice ballot along with directions for how to select the two candidates in order. The group put out a combined $21,668.50 on the double-header promotions, which thanks to the Supreme Courts Citizens United decision are not subject to the citys strict campaign finance raising and spending limits. The Citys Claudia Irizarry Aponte and Clifford Michel

SOON JANG, a California-based physicist, and his wife, Laurel Jang, began eyeing apartments in New York last spring for their youngest son, who was slated to attend Columbia University in the fall. They quickly settled on a roughly $2.3 million two-bedroom property at the Vandewater, a new development in the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan near the college, and put down a deposit to buy it sight unseen. By the time they finally made it to the city last fall to physically see the building, following the onslaught of the Covid-19 crisis, they had decided two bedrooms wouldnt suffice. Used to life in their sprawling 5,000-square-foot home in San Clemente, Calif., and with their son expecting to have to study from home amid the pandemic, the 1,400-square-foot unit seemed small and constricting. They reached deeper into their pockets and upgraded to a $3.2 million three-bedroom apartment with a home office…The couples story is far from unique. Real-estate agents across the city said they have seen a wave of affluent buyers looking to supersize their apartments

in recent months as they grapple with working from home amid the pandemic and feeling cooped up in small apartments. Wall Street Journals Katherine Clarke